Orange Chicken

I’ll spare you the “it’s been awhile and here’s my excuse as to why”… safe to say I still need to work on a normal routine! Anyway on to the topic at hand, Orange Chicken. Orange Chicken is by far my favorite item on a Chinese food menu and in a pinch I will definitely grab a bag of frozen Orange Chicken at Trader Joe’s (not ashamed to admit this). I found a recipe on a blog called Tracey’s Culinary Adventures, and it looked like she adapted her recipe from Cooks Illustrated. My recipe is an adaptation of her recipe. This recipe takes a bit of time to create, I would allow almost an hour to hour and a half to cook from start to finish. It’s definitely healthier than ordering out, but unfortunately is a lot more time-consuming.

Orange Chicken (adapted from Cook’s Illustrated/Tracey’s Culinary Adventures)

Ingredients:

Marinade/Sauce

1 1/2-2 pounds chicken breast, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 2 large oranges)
2 teaspoons grated zest
6 tablespoons white vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 inch piece fresh ginger, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch, plus 2 teaspoons
2 tablespoons cold water

For Coating
3 large egg whites
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup canola oil

Directions:

1. In a large saucepan combine the chicken stock, orange juice, orange zest, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and cayenne pepper.  Whisk thoroughly
2. Transfer 3/4 cup of the mixture to a gallon-sized resealable plastic bag.  Add the chicken to the bag then seal and refrigerate for no longer than 30 minutes
3. Heat the remaining sauce in the pan over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil
4. Combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl, mixing to dissolve the cornstarch
5. Once the sauce reaches a boil, whisk in the cornstarch mixture
6. Simmer the sauce until thick and translucent, about 1 minute.  Remove from the heat and set aside while you make the chicken
7. Preheat oven to 500 F.
8. In a shallow bowl add the egg whites and beat with a fork until they’re frothy and broken up
9. In a second shallow bowl,  combine the cornstarch and flour
10. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and drain to remove the marinade. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels
11. Add the chicken to the egg whites, turning to coat on all sides
12. Place the chicken in the cornstarch/flour mixture and toss to coat.  Shake off the excess and place the chicken on a plate
13. Repeat with all of the chicken pieces
14. Place a rimmed baking sheet in the preheated oven for 5 minutes
15. Remove the sheet, add the oil and return to the oven until the oil just starts smoking
16. Remove the baking sheet and add the chicken pieces in a single layer.  Cook for 7 minutes
17. Flip each piece of chicken over and cook on the other side until browned and cooked through, about 3-5 minutes
18. Transfer the chicken to a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess oil
19. Reheat the sauce and add the chicken, stirring to coat
20. Serve with white rice, and a garnish of green onion if you wish

Advertisements

Banh Mi (Vietnamese Sandwiches)

We have no shortage of good banh mi around my office, but I wanted to try to re-create one of these delicious little sandwiches myself. A year or so ago, I found and amazing recipe for Thit Nuong (Vietnamese grilled pork) from gastronomyblog.com. I adapted it a bit, using pork tenderloin instead of pork butt and eliminated a few of the ingredients but realized it would be great for a banh mi filling. I was right 🙂 This meat can also be served over rice noodles with additional accompaniments (this was how it was used in the original blog post I found).
*please note, this is not an authentic banh mi recipe, just one I adapted to my taste buds. 

Grilled Pork Banh Mi (serves 4-6)

Ingredients

For the meat:

2 lbs pork tenderloin, thinly sliced approximately 1/4 inch thick
1 large shallot, finely minced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup lemongrass, finely minced
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon vegetable oil

For the mayo:

1/2 cup low-fat mayo
2 tablespoons sriracha (or to taste)

Accompaniments:

4-6 crusty bread rolls
cilantro
mint
basil
julienned carrots
julienned diakon
julienned cucumbers
sliced jalapenos

Directions:

1. Combine all meat ingredients from shallot through vegetable oil in a large non reactive bowl
2. Place pork in marinade mixture, coat well
3. Allow the meat to soak overnight (or for best results, 24 hours)
4. Thread pork onto bamboo skewers that have been soaked in water for 20 minutes
5. Bbq pork over medium high heat until caramelized and cooked through (about 3-5 minutes per side)
6. While the meat is cooking, heat rolls in a slightly warmed oven, about 200 degrees.
7. Remove pork from skewers and place in a large serving dish
8. Slice the rolls and spread about 1 1/2 Tablespoons of the mayo on each roll
9. Add meat, and any of the accompaniments above

Vietnamese Meatball Lettuce Wraps

Ok, so these “meatballs” are more like mini hamburger patties, but serve the same purpose. In fact, there was discussion in my kitchen the other night about possibly turning these into sliders at some point… we’ll see. For now, they make a perfect addition to a rice filled lettuce cup. (The points listed above do not include rice, but with a 1/2 cup of rice, the points would be 9).
They are pretty quick to prep, and make for an easy but healthy meal. They are even better the next day as the flavors really come together overnight. And just a disclaimer, I did not actually cook this meal – my wonderful boyfriend David Fisher did. So kudos to him!

Vietnamese Meatball Lettuce Wraps (adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen)
(makes 5 servings, WW Points+ 6 points/serving)

Dressing Ingredients:
3 T soy sauce
4 T rice vinegar
2 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. red pepper flakes

Meatball Ingredients:
1 1/2 lb. ground turkey (99% Fat Free)
2 tsp. finely minced garlic
1 1/2 T grated fresh ginger root
2 T finely chopped green onion
1 T Asian sesame oil
2 tsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. soy sauce (regular or low sodium)
2 tsp. + 1 tsp. olive oil

Directions:
1. Mix together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl and let the dressing flavors blend while you make and cook the meatballs.
2. Chop garlic and grate (or finely chop) fresh ginger root, then add sesame oil, rice vinegar, and soy sauce.
3. Put ground turkey in a bowl, then use a large spoon to mix in the seasoning mixture you created in step 2.
4. Heat 2 tsp. olive oil in a large heavy frying pan, then use a tablespoon-sized measuring cup to scoop out turkey to make meatballs (or in my case small patties), adding each one to the hot pan as you make them.
5. Cook the meatballs/patties in two batches so you don’t crowd the pan, cooking each batch until the outside is lightly browned and they’re cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.
6. While meatballs cook, wash and dry mint leaves and green onion, chop cilantro and wash and dry lettuce leaves.
7. Once meatballs/patties are done, make lettuce wraps by putting 2-3 meatballs/patties inside a piece of lettuce, drizzling on sauce, and topping with mint or cilantro.

Pad Gra Pow (Spicy Thai Chicken with Basil)

I’ve been really into basil chicken at Thai restaurants lately and I wanted to try and make an at home version. Every time I tried, it tasted too much like soy sauce, or it was too garlicky or the basil flavor didn’t come through well enough. I stumbled upon a blog called http://www.thedevilwearsparsley.com and they had a great recipe. I altered it a little bit and this recipe is adapted from theirs.

Pad Gra Pow (Spicy Thai Chicken with Basil)

Ingredients:
1 lb. Chicken thinly sliced
1 Medium Red Onion thinly sliced
1 Green Pepper thinly sliced
4 Garlic Cloves minced
3 Thai Chiles, sliced paper thin (4 if you like spicy)
2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp. Oyster Sauce
1 tsp. Sugar
¼ C. Chicken Stock
2 tsp. Thai Red Curry Paste
20 Thai Basil Leaves, coarsely chopped
1- 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
(this recipe originally calls for eggplant, but I would omit. you will see it in the photos)

Directions:
1. Add ½ tablespoon of olive oil to a large skillet and heat over high heat
2. Sauté the onions, and peppers separately for one to two minutes for each vegetable starting with the onions and then the peppers (adding more oil if pan is dry)
3. After each veggie, remove from the pan, and place together on a plate
4. While the vegetables cook, prepare the sauce, mixing the garlic, chiles, curry paste, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar and ¼ cup of chicken stock in a small bowl. Mix together well so the curry paste blends
5. Add the chicken to the pan, and cook until just done (about 4-5 minutes)
6. Return the vegetables to the pan along with the sauce and mix until heated through
7. Remove from heat, and add the basil leaves
8. Serve over rice

Quick Thai Red Curry with Shrimp

I usually make this dinner when I’m cooking for one or if I need something in a pinch. Curry paste keeps really well in the fridge, and I think that canned coconut milk is a good pantry staple. The great thing about this dish is that you can add pretty much any veggie you want and since shrimp cooks so fast, this makes for a quick and tasty meal. Feel free to add or subtract any veggie from the meal, just make sure you adjust cook time for each veggie you add (ie: onion cooks quicker and gets mushy faster than say a pepper strip).

Quick Thai Red Curry with Shrimp (serves 2 or 1 with leftovers)

Ingredients:
1 small bell pepper (red or green) cut into strips
1/2 Chinese eggplant cut into small chunks
1/2 small onion cut into 1/2 inch slices
3 cups cleaned, de-veined and peeled uncooked shrimp (medium size)
1 can light coconut milk
2 Tbs. red curry paste
1 cup packed basil leaves sliced into thin strips
Cooked rice (about 1 cup cooked)
Directions:
1. Heat the curry paste in a large skillet over medium high heat. Break the paste apart with a wooden spoon
2. Add the can of coconut milk to the skillet and stir the paste into the milk making sure the paste is totally combined with the milk
3. Add the shrimp and all the veggies (adding the onion last) to the skillet and bring it to a boil
4. Lower the heat and simmer the curry mixture until the shrimp has turned pink and the veggies are cooked through (about 4 minutes)
5. Remove from heat and add basil to the curry and stir in
6. Serve over cooked rice

Phad Thai

This post is a guest post by the fabulous Christina Grob! She used the phad thai prepared paste from Thai Curry Simple (with locations on capitol hill or the international district.) I’ve used the curry paste in a previous post!

Chicken Phad Thai
Rice Noodles (8 ounces)
Phad Thai Paste from Thai Curry Simple (2 packets)
2 chicken breasts, thinly sliced
2 eggs
2 cloves garlic
2 T olive oil
1 1/2 C bean sprouts
1/4 C cilantro, chopped
1/4 C peanuts, chopped
lime wedges
Sriracha or hot chili sauce (to taste)
Prepare the noodles:
In a large pot, bring water to a boil.  Remove from heat, add dried rice noodles.  Give a quick stir, then let sit for 5-6 minutes. Noodles should still be slightly chewy – do not let the sit too long, or they will turn to mush.  Drain and set aside.
Stir Fry:
In a wok, add olive oil – should be very hot.  Add garlic, stir for 15 – 20 seconds, add chicken and stir fry until just done.  Push chicken to the side of the wok, add eggs and scramble. Stir chicken and scrambled eggs together, then add prepared rice noodles, packets of phad thai paste, Sriracha, and 1 cup of the bean sprouts.  Stir fry together until well mixed, about 3 – 5 minutes.
To Serve:
Add stir fry to bowl, squeeze lime over noodles, garnish with a pinch of fresh cilantro, 1 T of chopped peanuts, and a few of the remaining bean sprouts.
To Eat:
Fork (or chopsticks) to mouth, not that hard!

Get your Thai on

My office relocated to the International District a few months ago – and I’ve really enjoyed learning all about the different types of Asian cuisine. One of my favorite new restaurants down here is Thai Curry Simple – they are a Thai restaurant specializing in Bangkok street eating. Not only are the owners/employees super nice, they are also extremely helpful when asked cooking questions.

I’ve been making coconut curry for ages, mostly using Thai Kitchen’s curry pastes which can be found in most major super markets. Another good brand I’ve found recently at more specialized stores is Mae Ploy curry paste which is cheaper and I think a bit more flavorful than the Thai Kitchen brand. If you have access to an Asian grocery store like Uwajimaya they have a vast selection of curry pastes. Ok, off the curry paste tangent and back to Thai Curry Simple…

So I go to get my Panang Curry take-out and noticed that they have pre packaged curry pastes for sale for only 2$! I picked one up and purchased it with my lunch.

The guy at the counter (who I can only assume was the owner) gave me one key piece of advice. He said, “do not add the curry paste until the last three minutes of cooking. If you add it before it will dilute the curry flavor.” I always wondered why my curries never tasted as sharp and flavorful as the ones in restaurants – I just figured that it would be one of those dishes that would never be the same at home. Well I am happy to report the man was totally right. I have never had better curry at home EVER (and I’ve made a lot of curry). I’ll post the recipe with pics below. Even though this recipe is loosely based on the paste I bought from the restaurant, It can easily be adapted to use any paste.

Red Curry with Chicken and veggies (serves 4, but could easily be eaten by 2 hungry people)

Ingredients:

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
1 red or green bell pepper
1 small Chinese eggplant (if you can’t find one, you can use a normal eggplant)
Hand full of basil (whole leaves)
Red Curry Paste (amounts will vary per type of paste)
1 can coconut milk (can use low-fat if you prefer – just note your sauce won’t be as creamy)
1 tsp. red chili flakes (more or less depending on your love of spice/spiciness of the paste)
1 1/2 cooked white rice (I use jasmine rice)


Directions:

1. Thinly slice the chicken breast (the thinner the cut, the faster it cooks)
2. Thinly slice the bell pepper and the eggplant (***see note on eggplant below)
3. Bring 1 – 1 1/2 cups (I like a saucier curry so I use 1 1/2 cups) to a boil in a large saucepan
4. Add the chicken and the veggies to the coconut milk, bring back to a boil, then lower to a simmer until the chicken is just cooked through (about 4 minutes depending on the thickness of your chicken).
5. Once chicken is just cooked through and the veggies are limp – add the curry paste. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer for 3 minutes. And ONLY 3 minutes!!!!
6. Remove from heat, stir in chili flakes and basil
7. Spoon 1/4 of the  curry mixture over hot white rice and enjoy!!!

***Note on eggplant: eggplant is a naturally watery veggie. To remove the water, place slices on a paper towel and sprinkle with salt. Wait until you start to see water beads forming on top (about 5-10 minutes) then pat with a paper towel.

Step One:

Step Two: